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Friday, May 13, 2022

How to Move from ALT to Teaching at University

English Classroom
The ALT (Assistant Language Teacher) role is a great way to start your teaching career in Japan as a native-level English speaker. ALTs typically work across a wide range of schools from elementary to high school across Japan. There are usually plenty of ALT teaching jobs available every year during the recruiting season for the new school year which starts in April. 

For those who have been in Japan for a few years and are looking to further their career as a teacher, it makes sense to move from an ALT role to teaching at the university level. While this is quite a big step up, it is still possible for most with the right experience and qualifications. 

In this post, I will outline some of the key criteria that you will need to have in order to make the jump from being an ALT to a teacher at a university in Japan. 

1. Get your Master’s Degree 

One of the main criteria for working at the university level in Japan is a master’s degree (related to teaching). This could be in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or Linguistics. Getting a masters is not an easy thing and can take some time, especially if you are working full time and are doing your master’s online. Try and obtain your masters while working as an ALT as the shorter working hours and long vacation time is ideal for achieving this. 

Tokyo University
"Tokyo University of Foreign Studies" by Kimtaro is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

2. Complete a Cambridge CELTA 

The Cambridge CELTA Certificate is a great initial step in gaining the necessary qualifications to work at the university level in Japan. It is the most widely recognised English teaching qualification in the world and is regarded in high esteem by employers. You can complete one in a few months and then start on the process of obtaining a masters. In fact, some universities might accept you with only a CELTA certificate if you are lucky. 

3. Give as many Presentations as you Can 

Presentations gain you points for your application to a university level teaching job. Try and give as many as you can to build your presentation portfolio on your CV. A great place to start is the JALT (Japan Association for Language Teaching) Organization which has chapters in most prefectures in Japan and have monthly meetings which are always looking for new and enthusiastic presenters. The content of the presentation can be on anything that is teaching related in any field from kindergarten to adults. 

Image by NASA Goddard Photo and Video is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

4. Get Yourself Published 

Another way to gain points is via publications in academic journals which you can do by publishing the material that you have created or share your knowledge in a particular field. JALT has a publication called “The Language Teacher Journal” which comes out every two months. It is a great way to get your material out there in the Japan teaching world. A great way to start is to find someone (hopefully a full-time lecturer) who is interested in your work, or who is already working on something similar and do a joint publication. This is the perfect way to get your name out there. Publications can be on a broad range of topics from literature and textbook reviews to teaching young learners. 

Academic Publication
Image by oyajimbo is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. 

5. Network and Attend Conferences 

Sometimes all it takes is knowing the right person. You can network and build connections by attending teaching conferences in Japan. Teachers come and go in Japan, sometimes very suddenly, so if a university is in a pinch and is in desperate need of a teacher in short notice, they might just pass your application, especially if they have met or know you from a professional organization or conference.

You can also find university teaching jobs in Japan easily online. 

English Classroom
"Classroom M212" by barbourians is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. 

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